BASIC MEMORY SKILLS
This specific section is going to address memory in terms of the essentials of improving memory in a general way. We will be adding two other sections. ADVANCED MEMORY TECHNIQUES are very sophisticated and powerful, but they do require a good deal of time and effort to master them. SPECIFIC ACADEMIC MEMORY TIPS will be directed at improving specific academic memory skills. Now first and foremost - BASIC MEMORY TECHNIQUES.
With the case of our general memory - we receive some piece of information, we sense it, see it, feel it, read it, and it goes into our brain and it is stored in the short term memory. Now the trick is to move this information to the long term memory so that you are able to keep it longer than five or ten minutes.
The well known learning curve shows that in five minutes, much of the information we have taken in is lost. After an hour - two thirds of it is lost. And after a day has passed - 90 % of it is lost. This is the curve of forgetting. What we've found is that you can reverse that curve. And there are various techniques to do it.
The first thing we want to go over is how a simple recall method can help you store the information. Now this is information that we'll call ROTE INFORMATION for example when you are learning a section of a speech. In these cases you are learning something that is not just a list, that is not just something simple and direct. Its more of a instance of wanting to remember situations - wanting to remember broader terms.
For this we are going to use a little bit of ASSOCIATION but then we are going to base it primarily on MEMORY REVIEW. This works whether you are remembering lines of poetry or outlines of the sensory system.
First and foremost you want to ORGANIZE the information you are going to be taking in. You have to decide in what manner you want to take the information in. It may be by rote memorization of a section. It may well be some type of outline form.
The first step is to take in the information. And when you take in the information you really must learn to fully attend to what you are doing. Involve yourself in what your taking in. WE use the phrase "Be where you are." Be truly focused.Incorporate as many of the senses as you can. In other words, write it down, see it, even say it out loud sometimes. The more senses involved enhance the memory process.
And now you can reverse the learning curve. This is the key point here. You can reverse the learning curve by RECALL. The number of times you recall something helps move that piece of information from your short term memory to your long term memory.
To point out a specific technique that works the best:
Step number 2 - about five minutes later, undisturbed, go over the main points of what you are trying to remember. That should only take you a minute or two.
Step number 3 - an hour later, do the same thing.
Step number 4 - three hours later, do the same thing. Just go back over the information a minute or two.
Step number 5 - six hours later, do the same thing. Then that night before you go to sleep, review the material one last time.
Then step number 6 - repeat that three times a day for the second and third days. Now you have that information for the long term.
Baloney! Think about it. That's 12 times the first day. The second and third days, you only do it 6 times. That's eighteen, let's round it to twenty times. That's twenty times you are reviewing that information over three days for a minute or two. That means you are spending forty minutes studying that information, and you have it. And you know it, you possess it, and it isn't going anywhere. How many hours do people spend studying? Think about it. Typically, people sit down and study a subject for an hour or more to try to learn it. This is simply a more efficient way of doing it in a more piecemeal fashion. And by spreading it out over a period of days and recalling it more and more, you move it into that long term memory and it stays solidly there.
OK, that's where we are talking about memorizing, rote memorizing, where we are trying to take in broader or larger pieces of information.
TOP TEN LIST
Lets say we are trying to remember items. We are working with lists. Now there are a number of ways to do this. The two ways we've found we really like best. We'll call the first one the TOP TEN LIST. With the top ten list, you are taking something familiar, something that you know about, and something that isn't going anywhere, and you use that as a frame work for pegging items. We are going to be working with associations. You are going to be associating something with these pegs. Whether it is an item or whether it is a feeling, whether it is a person, it's going to be a form of ASSOCIATON. And remember that more we involve the senses, the more we can see, feel, smell, taste, these memories, the better we are going to remember. We also want to incorporate a little bit of exaggeration in here. Because the more bizarre, the more silly things are, the more outlandish things are, the more we take note of it, the easier we will remember it.
For the top ten list, let's use our bodies. Because it isn't going anywhere and we are very familiar with it. Let's start at the bottom and work our way up.
Then we are going to use our KNEE for number TWO.
Number THREE - we are going to use the THIGH MUSCLE, right above the knee, that quadriceps up there.
OK now ONE was the TOES, TWO is the KNEE, THREE is the THIGH MUSCLE. So you are just working your way up.
Number FOUR, we are going to call that our REAR END. That is our seat, our rear end. Everybody has one.
Number FIVE is going to be the LOVE HANDLES, that little bulge of extra flesh that you have along the sides of your abdomen.
Number SIX will be your SHOULDERS.
Number SEVEN - your COLLAR. The collar of your shirt around your neck.
Number EIGHT is going to be your FACE.
Number NINE is going to be the TOP OF YOUR HEAD - the point of your head.
Number TEN, that is going to be the CEILING up above your head.
Well, first thing we are going to do - we are going to remember that toaster. We are going to put that TOASTER on our TOES. We are going to think about that toaster bouncing on our toes. We are going to flip it up in the air with our toes.
Then we have a butterfly - this is going to be an easy one. The BUTTERFLY lands on your KNEE. You can see it crawling around on your knee.
This next one is EJECTION, with the thigh. Well lets see, how are we going to remember this? The way we're going to remember it is if someone wants to be ejected from a plane, They're going to be pushing out with their legs. We're going to be pushing with our legs. Our THIGH MUSCLES are going to be flexing to eject us from that plane.
OK now, wink. This one is going to be pretty easy. Somebody has got a cute REAR END, so we are going to WINK.
The Mediterranean - how are we going to associate the Mediterranean with love handles? Well let's think about it. We are going lolling out by the Mediterranean, sunning by the MEDITERRANEAN, we don't want to have LOVE HANDLES hanging way out over the edge of our belt.
Volvo - how are we going to do Volvo with shoulders? Well, let's say we are going to carry that VOLVO on our SHOULDERS.
And a wolf? A WOLF may want to bite you around the COLLAR, bite you around the neck. You have got to be careful. You don't want that wolf to bite you there.
And a sliver - let's say you have got a SLIVER of wood that's stuck in the side of your FACE a little bit - and you have got to pull it out with tweezers.
Then a tree. OK, that's pretty easy. We've got a TREE growing out of the TOP OF OUR HEAD.
And an incision - we're going to make an INCISION in that CEILING, and where we make an incision in that ceiling, all the insulation is going to come out on us.
OK, now we have got our facts. Sit down and think about it. Remember that toaster on your toes. Remember that butterfly on your knee. See you can do this without even going back to the list. You are going to eject from the seat by using your thighs. Someone is going to wink at someone who has a cute rear end. You don't want those love handles on the Mediterranean. That Volvo is really weighing down your shoulders. That sliver that is in your cheek - you've got to be careful taking it out with the tweezers. You have got a tree growing out of the top of your head. And now, guess what we've got? We've got an incision in the ceiling letting everything fall down on us.
That's how easy it is to use the top ten list. You can use this when you need to remember lists of things or when you have things you want to do. You have that top ten list, that set of little pegs walking around with you all the time now. The way you are going to get better at using the top ten list is to practice it. Yes, use it for school, but you can also get used to using it for lists of things you may want to get at the store, lists of things you have to do that day, even lists of people you have got to write notes to. Whatever the list might be, get used to using it because as you practice it, you get better and better at it.
TOP TWENTY LIST
Now we are going to expand that top ten list and we are going to go to a top twenty list. We are going to do this a bit differently because in this case, we are going to relate it or peg it more with numbers. By that I mean, the other peg system we related to specific things about our body that you are going to be carrying around with you all the time; your toes, your knee, your muscle, your rear end, your love handles, shoulder, collar and neck, the face, the top or point of your head, and the ceiling.
With this other technique you want to be able to relate to, you need to be able to expand it to twenty. There's a reason for this that you will learn a little bit about in the more advanced section.
Let's have a look at the Top twenty system.
With the number ONE we are going to pair a pen because the number ONE looks like a pen.
Number TWO- if you think a little bit about the way the number two curves, it looks a little bit like a swans neck, so we are going to think of the number two as a SWAN.
Number THREE - a stool has three legs - so we are going to think of the number three as a STOOL.
A car has FOUR wheels, (four doors, four speed, sometimes four-wheel drive). So we are going to think of the number four as a CAR.
We are going to pair number FIVE with a glove because a GLOVE has five fingers.
A gun is a six-shooter, a gun has six bullets in it so it is a six-shooter (six feet under) and we are going to pair a GUN with the number SIX.
With number SEVEN - lucky seven. You roll the DICE, you get a lucky number seven. So we are going to pair seven with the dice.
The number EIGHT looks line a SNOWMAN and that is what we are going to pair with number eight is snowman.
A cat has NINE lives. So what we are going to pair with the number nine is going to be a CAT.
With a bowling ball, you are trying to knock down TEN pens so we are going to pair the number ten with a BOWLING BALL.
If you look at the goal posts at a football field, they look like two uprights, like the number ELEVEN. So we are going to make the number eleven the GOAL POSTS on a football field.
There are a dozen eggs, so we are going to pair the number TWELVE with EGGS.
And THIRTEEN is an unlucky number for some people so we are going to make a WITCH go with number thirteen.
A valuable ring would be fourteen karat gold, so we are going to pair the number FOURTEEN with a RING.
People get paid on the fifteenth of the month. You may get an allowance on the fifteenth of the month, your parents probably get paid on the fifteenth of the month. So FIFTEEN is going to be paired with a DOLLAR BILL.
If someone is a sweet SIXTEEN, they like CANDY, so we are going to pair candy with the number sixteen.
Seventeen is a magazine called "Seventeen", so we are going to pair SEVENTEEN with MAGAZINE.
When you get to be EIGHTEEN years of age, you can vote, so we are going to pair VOTING BOOTH with eighteen.
NINETEEN, we are going to associate with a GOLF CLUB, because you've heard of the nineteenth hole on a golf course. That's where you go after you've shot your round. So nineteen is going to be golf clubs.
And TWENTY, well you've heard of twenty questions, so we will make twenty a QUESTION MARK where we are going to place something.
So we have this list now. The first we signify one with a pen, two is a swan, three is a stool, four is a car, five is a glove, six is a gun, seven is dice, eight is snowman, nine is cat, teen is bowling ball, eleven is goal post, twelve is eggs, witch is thirteen, a ring is fourteen, paycheck is fifteen, candy is sixteen, magazine is seventeen, voting booth is eighteen, golf clubs is nineteen, and a question mark for twenty.
Now let's put this to use. Let's say we have a list of words, and we want to try to remember unconscious, mustang, Albany, scissors, shepherd, candle, landfill, progeny, ubiquitous, enigma, sanguine, Pecos, follicle, college, psoriasis, tether, sandals, putter, and powersaw. Think about this, we want to pair them up with the numbers. We have this list before us. These are unrelated words. We thought we would make as hard as we could. So we want to pair these with our numbers.
We want to pair unconscious with a pen. Well let's say if I hit somebody over the head with a big PEN, a huge pen, it would knock them UNCONSCIOUS.
And number two is a swan and we want to pair it with mustang. Well, let's say the MUSTANG is chasing a SWAN in the lake. You can see the mustang charging after the swan in the lake.
Number three is Albany. Albany is the capital of New York, so let's say we have the capital building in Albany balanced on a stool that has just three legs, so you are balancing the ALBANY on a STOOL.
Scissors, well somebody is going to take these scissors... You want to pair it with number four and that's a car so someone is going take these SCISSORS and they are going to poke a hole in the tires of a CAR.
Five is bear. Well, I need a heck of a thick GLOVE to be able to handle a BEAR. The bear is pulling on the chain and I have to have a thick glove on my hand so that's the number five.
Six is a gun and a shepherd. Let's say the SHEPHERD needs a GUN to protect his flock from rustlers.
Number seven we want to pair candle with the number seven, Well that's dice. How are we going to pair that? Well we are rolling DICE in the alley by the light of a CANDLE.
Tough one here-landfill with snowman. Well, someone built the SNOWMAN out of a LANDFILL so we can think of an ugly snowman made from a landfill.
Number nine is cats and the word is progeny . Progeny means offspring or children, that's pretty easy to remember. A CAT has a lot of kittens, so it has a PROGENY.
This one is going to be a little bit tough. Ubiquitous means omnipresent, well if you are a bowling alley, BOWLING BALLS are UBIQUITOUS, they are omnipresent, so that's going to pair itself with number ten.
Now we have eleven - goal posts - and the word here is enigma. An enigma is a puzzle, a confusion. Let's say someone missed an easy field goal, didn't put the ball through the GOAL POSTS. It was a puzzle or an ENIGMA why he didn't do it.
Sanguine means cheerful and I'm cheerful when I go into the icebox and find that I've got a complete dozen eggs, that there are actually 12 eggs there so I've got a DOZEN EGGS so I'm SANGUINE.
Pecos is what we want to pair with thirteen and we've got a witch here and that's pretty easy. Let's say instead of Wild Bill of the Pecos, we've got a wild WITCH of the PECOS.
Fourteen was follicle. We have hair follicles and we want to pair this with a fourteen caret ring. Let's say we've wrapped FOLLICLES of hair around this RING to make it a very special ring.
College is fifteen and dollar bill. Well this is pretty easy to remember if you go to COLLEGE you're going to hit a big payday, you're going to make a lot of money a lot of DOLLAR BILLS.
Sixteen is psoriasis. If you have candy, too much candy let's say causes psoriasis. If you eat nothing but CANDYyou can get PSORIASIS.
Seventeen is tether, Well if I'm a guy, I've got to be TETHERED to read the MAGAZINE Seventeen. I'm not going to read that magazine very readily.
Eighteen is sandals. When I turn eighteen, I may want to show off that I am still young so I may want to wear SANDALS into the VOTING BOOTH.
Nineteen is easy. A PUTTER is a GOLF CLUB.
A powersaw is what we want to pair with twenty. Lets see that POWERSAW cut that QUESTION MARK in half.
OK, now let's go back and review. One, we knock somebody unconscious with that pen. Two, we had a mustang chasing that swan across the lake. Three, Albany was balanced on that stool. Four, we were poking holes in the tires with scissors. Five, we need a glove to handle the bear. Six, the shepherd has a gun, a six gun, to protect his flock. Seven, we have a candle to roll the dice by. We havet a snowman, eight, built on that landfill. Number nine, a cat has progeny. Number ten, a bowling ball is ubiquitous at a bowling alley. Number eleven, the kicker missing a field goal is an enigma, a puzzle. Number twelve, I'm sanguine over finding a dozen, or twelve eggs. Thirteen, the wicked witch of the Pecos. Number fourteen, we have a hair follicle, a follicle wound around that ring. Number fifteen, if you go to college, you are going to get a paycheck. Sixteen, too much sweet candy causes psoriasis. Seventeen, you've got to be tethered to read that magazine. Eighteen, you've got to wear sandals to go and vote. Nineteen, a putter is a golf club. And twenty, That powersaw is going to cut that question mark in half.
Now, with these two things, with the ten rules with your body and with the rule of twenty and in pairing those up with numbers, lists are now a cup of tea. You can remember lists very easily, but you have to practice it. It can get to be a natural thing the more you practice it.
ROMAN ROOM METHOD
Now we are going to give you one more tool here with the basics of remembering lists, or remembering things, by the Roman Room or the Room. Rather than actually walking through this like the previous two methods, what you want to do is use your imagination about what I'm about to go over.
Imagine yourself sitting in a room. You look at the room that you are very familiar with. It may be your bedroom, it may be your living room, it may be your den, dining room - in my case, my office. What you want to do is as you come in the door, going either clockwise or counter-clockwise, going from one piece of furniture to the next associating each piece of furniture with items you want to remember.
For instance, if I walk in my office, I can remember I have a list of things I want to shop for. Well, I can remember I want those eggs to be sitting on the desk as I walk in the front door. I want the paper towels next to the telephone. I want the frozen dinners over there by the computer to keep the computer cool.
You can walk around your room. You are not limited by twenty here. As many things as you can think of in a room, or you can imagine in that room, you can make that list of. You can make a journey out of it if you want to.
This Roman Room idea can be expanded to a journey. Let's say you know the route from your house to your office or to school. You know this by heart, you go the same way every day. Well, you can think of things you can place at the different sights along the way. You see what we are doing here, whether it is numbers, whether it is different parts of the body, what you are doing here is identifying specific pegs that you come up with. Pegs that you can give meaning to. Pegs that you can associate with the things that you can remember. These pegs tend to be permanent things. They're not going away. So when you associate these temporary items that you want to associate with them, you have got them locked in your memory for the long pull.
In the more advanced sections we are going to have more advanced techniques for pairing numbers from one to one hundred. That is in the more advanced section. That takes a good deal more work and effort. There are a couple of short cuts that we've found that work for remembering numbers.
This one is a trick that I've used for years. If I want to remember phone numbers, if I want to remember any sequence of numbers, it's pretty easy to do because I just pair it with numbers that I am familiar with. For instance, I may pair it with numbers of football players, baseball players, or basketball players when I was growing up. If I wanted to remember the number sixty-four seventy-three. Jerry Kramer's number was sixty-four and Ralph Neely's number was seventy-three so I just paired them blocking each other. That helped me remember numbers. I'm bringing up old numbers here of players you probaly aren't familiar with, but you need to make you own associations. So if you have numbers that you can think of if you are a sports fan who watches sports, you can pair up numbers that way.
There is another way and that can be using numbers you are familiar with. It can be a numbers of highways or numbers you associate something lasting with.